- Elk Fire
- Woodhouse Memo
- Barton Guilty
- Proud Granddaughter
- Train Enthusiasm
- School Food
- FB Police PR
- Warrant Wednesday
- Yesterday's Catch
- El Nino
- Glass Beach
- 128 Closures
- Secret Service
- Big Snake
- Climate Conference
- Olive Tree
- Net Metering
- Wine Industry
- Going Medieval
ANOTHER LAKE COUNTY WILDFIRE
A hundred acre (and growing) wildland fire three or four miles north of Upper Lake has prompted evacuations, road closures; White Rock Canyon residents ordered to leave.
The wildfire which started about 3pm Wednesday is burning out of control near Elk Mountain Road in the White Rock Canyon area north of Upper Lake, on the southwest edge of the Mendocino National forest, prompting mandatory evacuations for all residents in that immediate vicinity. By Wednesday evening already 200 firefighters were on the scene. So far, CalFire said, no homes were threatened. Besides the mandatory evacuations, those who live near White Rock Canyon Road have been advised to be prepared to evacuate. An evacuation staging area was being set up at Upper Lake County Park. Evacuees were advised to go to the park to receive information regarding resources available to them. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Several air tankers and helicopters have been deployed to assist the ground crews.
THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE (7:40 am): "CALFIRE and United States Forest Service (USFS) are Unified Command of the Elk Incident located off Elk Mountain Road in the community of Upper Lake, Lake County. The Elk Incident is currently 450 acres, 20% contained. Firefighters at scene are aggressively fighting the fire with additional firefighting resources requested and responding."
SUPERVISOR BROWN’S MEMO TO WOODHOUSE Telling Him To Back Off.
THE AVA HAS OBTAINED the "Confidential Communication" (below) that Board of Supervisors Chair Carre Brown sent to Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse. The so-called Confidential Communication, in the form of a memo dated August 11, formed the basis of the odd exchange on August 18 between Brown and Woodhouse that was reported by the AVA last Sunday and picked up on by both Willits papers (the Willits News and the Willits Weekly) about the same time.
DURING DISCUSSION about forming an ad hoc committee to respond to the Grand Jury library report — a report that was scathingly critical of the County handling of library funds — Woodhouse said we ought to welcome the report as constructive criticism. Woodhouse then added: "And as a side comment, I'd like to get this in, that, I try to do that in my life. I was — I got a letter from our board chair regarding my communication with staff and it tried to give me constructive criticism and it certainly — I'm not used to getting criticism..." Brown interrupted at that point, but Woodhouse persisted: "I just want to finish if I may. But I want to thank you for that and it's just an example of how we need to be able to take criticism, even on emotional issues, and I appreciate the input."
REPORTER MIKE A'DAIR SOON FOLLOWED UP with a story in the Willits Weekly headlined: "Board Chair urges Woodhouse not to talk to county employees." Woodhouse told A'Dair the letter contained "pushback there about me talking to employees too much." Woodhouse went on to say that employees seek him out to discuss their problems and "they feel like speaking out is not something the County leadership wants to hear" and that they fear retribution, all of which is true. Brown confirmed the existence of the letter, which she characterized as a "confidential communication regarding personnel matters" but declined to discuss it further.
WILLITS NEWS EDITOR LINDA WILLIAMS followed up with this article on Wednesday (which also ran in the Ukiah Daily Journal):
1st District Supervisor Brown Reprimands 3rd District Supervisor Woodhouse
by Linda Williams
Third District Supervisor Tom Woodhouse confirms he received a letter from First District Supervisor Carre Brown criticizing him for speaking to county employees. The Willits News can find no provision in county or state code which gives any one supervisor control over another’s behavior or actions.
Brown’s special responsibility as the board chairman, according to state law, is limited to “presiding at all meetings of the board.” If Brown was just providing a bit of advice to the new supervisor, why she would have characterized the letter to other media as a confidential personnel matter is unclear.
There is no provision in the county code restricting supervisors from talking to or asking questions of county employees. There is a special provision in county code which specifically authorizes all county officers and department heads to contact Board members directly, without interference from the CEOs office.
An informal TWN poll, revealed that some voters in the Third District consider talking with county employees to be part of a supervisor’s job.
Woodhouse says he is uncomfortable talking about the critical letter but that he would find it difficult to turn away county employees who come to him to tell him about problems they see within the county. He says he isn’t trying to interfere with relations between the county and employees.
Problems within Mendocino County government between workers and supervisors in many departments, especially Health and Human Services, has been well documented by the Mendocino County Grand Jury, union officials and many former employees. Concerns over retaliation against whistle blowers has made it difficult for current county employees to speak about workplace issues on the record.
The county’s recent response to the Mendocino County Grand Jury’s report on Family and Children’s Services illustrates the role of HHSA supervisors and managers who seem to be rewarded for painting the most advantageous picture of their department’s performance rather than providing the board with a realistic view of conditions on the ground. This rosy portrait prompted First 5 Mendocino to issue a white paper supporting the grand jury findings out of concern for children being handled by FCS, including two tragic examples of failure.
One member of the board of supervisors has no individual authority to direct county employees or to negotiate contracts or compensation. A quorum of three supervisors is required to make anything happen.
The CEOs office manages the day to day operations of the county based on the direction provided by the Board of Supervisors.
Censure of a member of any county Board of Supervisors is very rare in California and is usually reserved for a supervisor accused of or convicted of committing a serious crime. All discussion about censure must be conducted in public and are subject to the Brown Act.
(Courtesy, the Willits News)
* * *
All of which sounds like Woodhouse, who has expressed dissatisfaction with some areas of county government, is being chastized for asking too many questions of line staff without going through County CEO Carmel Angelo.
* * *
County of Mendocino
Board of Supervisors
From: Carre Brown, Chair of the Board of Supervisors
To: Supervisor Tom Woodhouse
CC: Dan Gjerde, Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors
Date: August 11, 2015
Re: Discussion on July 23, 2015
This memorandum serves to recap our discussion about how members of the Board of Supervisors are expected to relate with County staff, and the scope of powers for individual members of the Board.
I provided an overview of the division of responsibilities in the County governance. I reminded you that in accordance with County Ordinance 4140, the County Executive Officer is responsible for running the day-to-day business of the county, including oversight of County staff. Our role as members of the Board of Supervisors is to develop policy and legislation to guide the work; the CEO and delegated staff then execute the plans. As we discussed, an individual board member does not hold legislative or executive powers on his or her own. The power derives from the collective Board of Supervisors. So an individual supervisor does not have the power to make unilateral decisions or actions on behalf of the board. The Brown Act governs meetings of the Board because the legislative body as a whole is the entity that has the power to guide and create county policies.
Given this model, it is very important that all of our Board members provide the CEO with the level of deference appropriate under Ordinance 4140. If as a board we want to request information or ensure that staff is meeting its obligations we must work through the CEO's office directly and not try to work around the CEO or the department heads. With departments run by elected department heads, we as supervisors can always speak directly to the elected department heads, but are usually best served by also coordinating our contact with elected department heads through the CEOs office.
Additionally, I explained that it is inappropriate for a member of the board to contact nonsupervisory staff directly to inquire about the nature of his or her work projects. Doing so is problematic because first and foremost the meeting distracts the staff member from his or her job duties. The staff member will likely feel compelled to meet with a member of the board of supervisors who seeks the meeting even if the staff member is uncomfortable with the subject matter or timing of the meeting. Additionally, as an official of the county, if a staff member were to report feeling singled out or harassed on the basis of a protected status like sex or age the county would be at risk for liability based on the individual supervisor's conduct.
Vice Chair Gjerde focused on strategies moving forward to ensure that all of our Board members comply with the directives of Ordinance 4140 and to avoid creating liability for the county by individually contacting staff members. As we discussed Vice Chair Gjerde and I are available to answer your questions about how to proceed in the future should you have any confusion about the appropriate course of action to take.
We appreciate you acknowledging the need to comply with Ordinance 4140 and your commitment to avoid placing the County at risk for liability going forward.
Please contact me or Vice Chair Gjerde if my recap of our discussion differs from your recollection.
* * *
THE FIRST THING THE "Confidential Communication" reveals is that Woodhouse was double teamed by two supervisors, Brown and Fourth District Supervisor Dan Gjerde, in their capacities as Chair and Vice Chair. The memo confirms that Woodhouse, who has apparently been talking to front line staff, is being told to knock it off, that he needs to "work through the CEO's office directly, and not try to work around the CEO or department heads." The memo cites County Ordinance 4140 which spells out the duties of the CEO and then says "it is very important that all of our Board members provide the CEO with the level of deference appropriate under Ordinance 4140." In fact, if “deference” is due other than perhaps ordinary common courtesy, it should be from the CEO to the Supervisor, since the CEO works for the board, not the other way around, and the board works for the public.
THE MEMO CAUTIONS against "inappropriate" (all bow) contact of non-supervisory staff. Somewhat ominously, the memo says that if a staff member were to report “feeling singled out or harassed on the basis of a protected status like sex or age, the County would be at risk for liability based on the individual Supervisor's conduct.” The memo says Gjerde focused on ensuring “that all of our Board members comply with the directives of Ordinance 4140, and to avoid creating liability for the County by individually contacting staff members.” The memo concludes by gratuitously inviting Woodhouse to contact Brown or Gjerde if he has “any confusion about the appropriate course of action to take.”
IN THE MEMO, Brown is very clearly taking Woodhouse to the woodhouse and to back off talking to the employees, but the references to county liability suggest there is more to the memo than meets the eye. It begs the question: has Woodhouse been acting suspiciously around county employees? It seems unlikely that Woodhouse, who has been married to the same woman for about forty years, would be foolish enough to “hit on” county employees. But joking or innocent remarks, or even compliments, can easily be misconstrued in the present day and age. But if that was the case, then say that, don’t hide behind bogus rules about the CEO.
WE SUSPECT that large chunks of Supervisor Brown’s legalistic-sounding and borderline threatening memo were fed to her by Ms. Angelo or County Counsel Doug Losak both of whom seem afraid of Supervisors finding things out about County matters for themselves. Telling an elected Supervisor that he can’t talk to employees about their work is tantamount to saying that they can’t even check to see if their policies and priorities are being carried out. We elected our Supervisors to supervise, not take the word of the CEO on every little thing. Talking to County employees about their work — short of annoyance or distracting non-work related subjects — should be part of a Supervisor’s job.
HHSA EMPLOYEES and administrative support staff in the county offices are predominantly female. Woodhouse, who appears to be taking his job seriously, has made it a point to talk to county employees, including front line staff who might actually have insight into what's going on in the trenches. Here in the heart of Mendoland, where passive aggressives stalk the land and nice peopleism predominates, Woodhouse may have inadvertently crossed paths with someone who lacked the gumption to tell him to just "hit the road, Bub, I've got work to do" and who instead broke a leg rushing to file a complaint about vague "inappropriate" behavior. Then again, this may be nothing more than speculation to get Woodhouse to toe the CEO’s line.
SUPERVISOR BROWN, for her part, has a reputation for upholding high ethical standards. Brown is not one to tolerate borderline behavior as she has demonstrated on occasion by gavelling her male counterparts into line in meetings. Has Woodhouse crossed a line in the way he interacts with County employees? Or is Brown trying to cut off his access to employees to prevent him from learning too much about sensitive topics like the mental health give away to Ortner or the numerous problems in Family and Children’s Services (formerly CPS)? Stay tuned for the next chapter of this still unfolding only-in-Mendo saga.
CASE UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 2, 2015 — DEFENDANT TALEN CLARK BARTON, age 19, formerly of Laytonville, resolved his case this afternoon before Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman.
With Public Defender Linda Thompson assisting, Barton plead guilty to murdering Teo Andriano Norvell Palmieri and Coleman Andriano Palmieri on July 19, 2015, both murders being in the first degree (premeditated, deliberate, and with malice aforethought). Barton also plead guilty to the attempted murders of Cindy and Theodore Norvell, both attempted murders also in the first degree. He finally plead guilty to falsely imprisoning two teenage girls. A special allegation that Barton used a knife in the commission of the above crimes was also admitted as true, as well as a special allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury on both Cindy and Theodore Norvell. At the request of the Court, District Attorney Eyster made a statement outlining why he was asking that the special circumstance (the allegation that makes a defendant eligible for the death penalty) be dismissed. Eyster acknowledged that, pursuant to California's Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008, he had personally been in contact with the survivors by telephone and they were aware of today's change of plea and the stipulated disposition. In addition to giving weight to the wishes of the survivors, the stipulated sentence that will be imposed, according to Eyster, is a rough equivalent to life without parole.
After accepting the defendant's guilty pleas and admissions, the Court referred the matter to the Adult Probation Department for a social study and report, as required by law. However, the parties stipulated — a stipulation accepted by the Court — that the defendant will be sentenced to 71 years to life in state prison when he returns to court on October 6, 2015 at 9 o'clock in the morning in Department A. The defendant is not expected to be eligible to appear before the Parole Board until he is at least 89 years old, assuming he lives that long. All interested individuals are welcome to attend that sentencing hearing.
The local law enforcement agency that responded to the Laytonville crime scene and fully investigated this matter was the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, particularly the detectives in the Sheriff's Investigative Services Bureau. Support was provided by the California Department of Justice, as well as the District Attorney's Investigative Services Unit.
(District Attorney’s Press Release)
HOMELESS & UNWANTED
My grandfather, A. Lotero, was unwanted and homeless in his childhood. He couldn't attend local schools because of his illegitimate birth. He went on to became one of the largest employers of Jewish and non-Jewish people in South America, after World War II. I am so proud.
Susie de Castro
THE MAJOR ASKED his female alter ego — a nice PC-wine-lady we call “Denise” who recently retired from Visit Mendocino County — to read the first two paragraphs of yesterday’s preposterous pseudo-press release about the SMART train’s “vision” for 2016. Denise thought that Mr. Wood’s breathless description of the SMART “commuter” train — which, if it ever really comes to pass which we doubt, will connect Nowhere in Sonoma County to Bumcluck in Marin thus making it useless as a the commuter train they advertise it to be — sounded more like Denise’s favorite train: the Napa wine train which traverses a whopping 18 miles up and down Napa County each day for — get this for commuter purposes: around $200 a person a day. But, as Denise cheerfully reminded us, it includes a nice lunch!
Here’s the text of the part that Denise particularly liked, followed by Denise’s audio rendition which she said was the way it was meant to be read.
Wood: “Imagine it's 2016 and you’re in Sonoma County, a quarter mile east of the county airport, and you want to reach Marin County, 48 miles away, and ultimately the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal. Here’s how SMART, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit — now under construction — will get you there. Boarding at the Airport Boulevard station, settle in for a four-mile run straight to the Guerneville Road station. SMART, as trains do, will pass through industrial landscape, but nearby are famous wineries such as John Ash & Co.’s Vintners Inn. Next stop: Railroad Square in downtown Santa Rosa — and it won’t take long, as SMART trains stop for no more than 40 seconds at each station (don’t worry, everything meets rigid safety requirements).”
Denise has a tendency to embellish things a bit, but you can’t deny her enthusiasm! Take it, Denise!
HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES
Last week, we wrote the below item about some complaints from local parents about AV Unified’s new food program:
“LAST WEEK Anderson Valley School Superintendent Michelle Hutchins, in her first public statement as Superintendent, told Anderson Valley that one of her top priorities was healthy food: “During my two-year tenure as the High School Principal, one of the most consistent requests for review and change from parents is what we feed our children through our Cafeteria service and to offer more choices. We spent many hours reviewing the food options offered, the nutritional value of our food, the vendors providing our food, and what it costs. Our long-term vision is to offer healthier, locally grown food provided by local farmers. This will be a multi-phased approach to getting there and we are happy to announce that we have put the first phase of this vision in place. Beginning this week, we changed the menus to provide healthier choices.
Breakfast: The children are being offered healthy cereal options with creative packaging. The cereals are whole grain, low sugar, individually packaged with familiar names such as Cheerios, Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs. They are also being offered Greek yogurt, granola and fresh fruit each morning.
Lunch: In addition to a hot lunch option previously provided, we now have vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Students are also offered yogurt and fresh fruit with their lunch. Again, it’s about having more healthy options.
Super Snack: At the end of each school day, all children will be offered a super snack that contains a protein, whole grain, fruit and vegetable.
We are very excited about these healthier menu changes. As for the next phase of this project, we are beginning conversations with local farmers and putting the processes in place to continue marching toward our vision for locally grown food in our Cafeteria service and will update the parents and community as we implement the next phase. Stay tuned.”
* * *
MOST PEOPLE were with Ms. Hutchins right up to where she described “Cheerios, Fruit Loops, and Cocoa Puffs” as “whole grain, low sugar.” Fruit Loops as school food won’t go over well with a lot of Anderson Valley parents no matter how they’re described.
AND, SURE ENOUGH, came reports from several parents who said that they were unhappy that their kids were offered “Pop-Tarts” or some negative food value morsel like Pop Tarts. In an area where lots of people back the eat healthy, eat local food movement, packaged food “options” aren't considered options. At least two callers have told us that Ms. Hutchins and the school district are paying a food consultant from the Central Valley some pretty big bucks for these “healthier menu changes.” “How about oatmeal, toast made of good bread and an apple?” asked one annoyed parent. “Is that so hard?” Meetings are being held with and without Ms. Hutchins to redefine healthy food.
WE UNDERSTAND that the menu changes may have more to do with maximizing federal food reimbursements, food storage problems at the cafeteria and inconsistent quality in last year’s school food. The food issue is front and center on Thursday evening’s school board meeting agenda.
* * *
SO WE SENT THAT ITEM to Superintendent Hutchins and she promptly replied:
I reiterate that one of my top priorities is healthy food. While I mistyped healthy when I should have typed healthier, I stand by my commitment to better the child food service in Anderson Valley. When I realized the food service program was taking approximately $135,000 a year from the education fund, I chose to do something about it. AV School Board approved a contract with Billy Reid Consulting who writes the following to the AV Community:
* * *
My name is Billy Reid, I am the consultant that the district has hired to evaluate the school food service dept.
Just a little background on myself, I was born in Ireland and came to the USA when I was 15 to work in NYC. I am a fully trained gourmet French chef, and I have worked in the food industry my entire working life.
I was brought to your beautiful valley to address a huge encroachment on your general fund by the food service dept. this is money not being spent on the education of your children. There were also some compliance issues that needed to be addressed.
All the issues found can and will be addressed and I assure you that I can fix the encroachment and compliance issues. School food service is probably the most regulated program in the nation, it is also food so it is close to everyone's heart and we all have our own thoughts on how it should be done. I can tell you that I myself have my own opinions about food.
First off, we all need to understand that this is a federal program and is guided by some very strict regulations, before I can menu anything I have to calculate and document the ingredients, how many grams of flour are in an item, does it meet the whole grain standards set forth by USDA. Etc..etc..etc.... The paperwork is at times infinite it seems.
Every grain we serve is a whole grain, we are not allowed to offer anything less. There was also a misunderstanding about the cereal choices, I did not mean to infer, and I apologize to anyone I offended, that coco puffs were healthy, I would never do that. The intent of the statement was to say that they are a healthier version of the common brand found in supermarkets, and they are, they are a whole grain and have 25% less sugar. They are different. We all have our own interpretation of healthy, myself included.
School food service done my way is about choice, I came from a war torn country, where at times I was told where I could go, where I could not and even at times told what I could or cold not eat. America gave me the freedom to choose, many members of my family, my son included fought for that right. I love that about America. Choice!
In our serving lines, no one makes anyone take anything they do not want. This is about choice. There are 1 gram of sugar cereals available, there are 2 grams of sugar cereals available, there are gluten free cereals available and also the whole grain 6 grams of sugar coco puffs. There is 100% juice available, low fat yogurt and also fresh local fruit. In addition to pizza and burgers at the high school, fresh scratch made food is starting to be put on the menu. The homemade chicken teriyaki with brown rice, made by students sold out last week, as did the pizza and the burgers.
In response to the oatmeal, toast and fruit request, the oatmeal part is very doable, the fruit part we are ready doing, the problem with toast is how to serve it to hundreds of children in 25 minutes. It always presents itself as a challenge, when I make my toast it is usually cold by the time I get my tea. My issue with oatmeal is there is no stove or a way to cook at the elementary school. There is a burner but that is a violation of the health code and I am not the person to deliberately violate regulations. Please be assured we are working on a kitchen at the elementary school.
I do not mean to make light of anyone's concerns, I am not here to offend or upset anyone, I am here to serve the community.
As the superintendent stated, this is going to be a phased in approach, we are only at the first stage.
Stage one is the regulatory piece, getting everything in compliance, negotiating pricing with your vendors, training staff on the never ending paperwork and the new operating processes, this is a very important piece.
After everything's balanced out we move on to stage 2, more menu choices, recycling etc. — the phases after that just keep coming, food service is ever changing.
I promise you, truly promise you, that I can fix the issues in the department and that you will be happy with the end product.
Folks, kids are eating, regulations are being followed and revenue is being generated. It is working already, let's just let it work.
I have never failed yet and I promise you again, I will not fail here.
I am not going to make everyone happy, but I am willing to try and I have a pretty good batting average so far.
Thank you kindly,
(Ed note: According to a quick internet search, Billy Reid was food service/nutrition consultant at Salida Union School District in Stanislaus County, before being brought onboard at AV Unified.)
FORT BRAGG POLICE NEED TO ISSUE PRESS RELEASES — man arrested on multiple charges, including ‘sexual battery on mental adult’
We know the Fort Bragg Police are a hard working department, but they certainly need improvement when it comes to issuing press releases.
Transients have been dying on the streets and not a word mentioned about them — then this arrest for FOUR felonies last Saturday — and not a WORD mentioned about it.
They should look at the way the Lakeport Police Department issues releases. They're on top of it over there — from crime to road closures — posted in "real time."
One has to laboriously scan the Mendo Sheriff's arrest log to find out any Fort Bragg arrest information — and this crime seems particularly heinous. In the month of August, the Fort Bragg Police put out ONE press release — and it didn't involve crime — it was a "National Night Out" announcement.
In July they posted seven press releases with five involving crimes — in June there were five releases with only one involving a crime.
It's a bit misleading to have the public think there were only six crimes in Fort Bragg worthy of press releases over the past three months — to say the least. An alert MSP reader sent along the link to this booking from the Mendocino County Jail and we were able to make our own post on the arrest:
Fort Bragg Man Arrested On 4 Felonies
Sexual Battery On Mental Adult One Of Them
Records from the Mendocino County Jail indicate Fort Bragg Police arrested Jaden Lundy, age 38, on Saturday, August 29 @ 8:55 am on four felony charges:
Sexual Battery on a mental adult
Assault/Domestic Battery/Inflicting Corporal injury on spouse/co-inhabitant
Lundy was booked on those four felony charges at 8:18 am on Sunday, August 30 and had his booking photo taken @ 10:32 am. The 5'10", 160-pound Lundy is being held on $125,000 bond and was still in jail Wednesday @ 9:30 am.
SHERIFF’S WARRANT WEDNESDAY
Joseph Henry Mendoza is wanted on a $150,000 felony warrant for assault with force and battery.
Height: 5' 11" Age: 23. Hair: Brown. Eyes: Brown. Weight: 200 lbs. If you have any information regarding his location, please call MCSO Dispatch at (707) 463-4086
CATCH OF THE DAY, September 2, 2015
KAI BERKICH, Sacramento/Ukiah. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale, armed with firearm.
STEVEN BERRY, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
JOHN BOLTON, Willits. Probation revocation. (Frequent flyer.)
MEREDITH BOONEDENHEIM, Lakeport/Ukiah. Petty theft, probation revocation.
MICHAEL FOXWORTH, Ukiah. Domestic battery, court order violations, county parole violation.
ERICK GIUMELLI, Redwood Valley. Criminal threats of death or great bodily injury, stalking and threatening great bodily injury.
JOSHUA GUEVARA, Talmage. Saps/similar, metal knuckles.
RICHARD HALL, Modesto/Redwood Valley. DUI.
DEVIN NIELSON, Willits. Contempt of court.
ANTHONY PINOLA, Ukiah. Drunk in public, probation revocation.
JAMES PORTER, Silver Springs, Nevada/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
MIKEL REXRODE, Fort Bragg. Drunk in public.
NOE REYNOSO, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, override of ignition interlock, probation revocatioin.
WALLY SHATTUCK JR., Fort Bragg. Pot cultivation, processing, possession for sale.
AIMEE SMITH-YATES, Ukiah. Domestic assault.
UN: THIS EL NINO TO BE AMONG THE STRONGEST SINCE 1950
The current El Nino weather pattern may be on track to become one of the strongest in more than half a century, experts at the World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday.
The El Nino event involves a shift in winds in the Pacific Ocean along the equator every few years, warming the water more than usual and triggering a change in global weather patterns.
The Geneva-based U.N. body says ocean and atmospheric conditions over the tropical Pacific and most expert models and opinion point to a strengthening of the El Nino in the second half of 2015. This El Nino, the first since 1997-98, follows the rapid melting of arctic sea ice and snow cover in the northern hemisphere over the last few years.
“This is a new planet. Will the two patterns reinforce each other or cancel each other?” said David Carlson, director of WMO’s World Climate Research program. “We have no precedent for this situation.”
A WMO statement Tuesday said models indicate ocean temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific are likely to reach peaks that could make this El Nino among the four strongest since 1950. Peak strength is expected between October and January.
El Nino’s impact this year on California is one lingering question. The coast of California, which has faced four years of drought, would traditionally get a lot of rain from the El Nino weather pattern, officials said.
WMO director of climate prediction Maxx Dilley said farmers, rescue officials and reservoir operators are among those bracing for El Nino’s impact.
FROM THE NEW COAST TRAIL AT GLASS BEACH.
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
HIGHWAY 128 Night Closures Continue on 9/1 and 9/3
SONOMA COUNTY – As previously announced, Caltrans will close State Route 128 west of Cloverdale tonight, Tuesday, September 1, and Thursday, September 3. There will not be a full closure of the highway on Wednesday, September 2, but one-way traffic control will remain in effect for the duration of the project. These closures on State Route 128 are necessary in order to place piles for a retaining wall project approximately 1.4 miles west of the three-way intersection of North Cloverdale Boulevard, North Redwood Highway, and Oat Valley Road, and approximately 2.4 miles east of the Mendocino County line. An update will be sent to media and stakeholders for closures during the week of September 8.
State Route 128 will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on the following days:
Tuesday night, September 1
Thursday night, September 3
No work during Labor Day Weekend
Tuesday night, September 8.
Work has not been scheduled but is planned from Tuesday night, September 8 through Thursday night, September 17. An update will be sent as soon as this work is scheduled.
Detour: Motorists will be detoured to State Route 253. When traveling from Cloverdale to Boonville, the detour adds approximately 16 miles and 20 minutes of additional travel time.
For all other hours, one-way reversing traffic control will continue until the project is complete in mid-October 2015, and motorists should expect delays when traveling through the construction zone.
If this work is delayed due to weather conditions, it will be rescheduled for a later time. Please drive cautiously through the construction zone, leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you, and Slow for the Cone Zone.
For more information, visit the website at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/128oatvalleyroad
MANY LAKE COUNTY FIRE VICS WITHOUT FIRE INSURANCE
Damage expected to approach or exceed $3 million.
Nearly half of the Lake County residents displaced from their homes by the Rocky and Jerusalem fires did not have homeowner’s insurance, leaving many without the means to rebuild. … Some reported being denied insurance because their homes were built without permits, or because they used nonstandard construction, had solar energy systems or lived in areas that were prone to wildfire.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY: DOOMER DIALOGUE
Comment #1: I was offered 10 acres out in the country by my father-in-law. He offered to pay most of the cost of building a house on the property. He is a longtime doomer, and thinks that the best way to survive is to grow your own food out in the country. I turned down the offer, partly because his daughter and myself have already built a life for ourselves inside the city limits. I personally think that if civilization fails to the point that people are desperate for food, the first place they will go is out in the country where people are growing lots of food just to survive. In the city, there are immediate neighbors who can help each other in such crises, and there is at least some defense against desperate, hungry people. The countryside will most likely be alive with gunfire as even non-violent people hunt down the last of the local wildlife.
Comment #2: Agreed. I bought 30 acres out in the country (got a steal on a foreclosure) with the thought of building a doomstead out there. Then I realized we would be sitting ducks. So I now have beefed up my in-town homestead with chickens and a pig and ever-expanding growing plots. I’m going intensive with what I have and food production is increasing every year. The beauty is we live in a neighborhood that is (privately) fenced around the entire perimeter and has only two entry points, and a huge central park where a ton of food could be grown. The residents are well-off and we could easily form a watch group to guard access in and out of the neighborhood (armed) in shifts. Protein might be a problem for some, but I have 9 laying hens, so I’ve got a decent source. Keep a rooster and the flock will be sustainable.
YOU THINK MENDO HAS BIG RATTLESNAKES, TRY THIS ONE FROM CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI
I'M ON IT, CRAIG
Warmest spiritual greetings Mr. Editor,
Please be thrilled with me in realizing the special creative opportunity which the upcoming UNCCC in Paris, France, 11/30 to 12/11 offers. Have a look at the website at
I am thanking you in advance for your cooperation, and please invite all of your friends to participate.
Sincerely, Craig Louis Stehr
Craig Louis Stehr
THE STORY OF AN OLIVE TREE
by Almudena Grandes
It was a decoration in the center of a table.
That’s how I saw it for the first time two years ago: a green, gnarled, miniature with very small fine leaves. I wasn’t expecting it. During the ceremony of awarding a literary prize, one speech followed another, but I only had eyes for it. It was so small, so beautiful, so strange, that from the first moment, I refused to think of it as what it was: a simple element of decoration.
I had seen bonsais at other times, but never so close because I don’t like them. My eyes appreciate them and notice their beauty; and yet, there’s something about them that is repugnant to my spirit. I understand that trees don’t have feelings. Since I don’t believe in the human soul, I can’t even conceive of a vegetable soul; but that day, before that shrunken olive tree reduced to a caricature of itself, I was amazed to find myself thinking about its dignity. And it seemed intolerable to me that someone had dared to apply some remote, alien technology, out of pure refined barbarism, to the totemic tree of my ancestors, the symbol of Athena, the offering the Athenians chose to associate themselves with the goddess of reason, the source of the balsam that for hundreds of years has defined the culture of two coasts of the Mediterranean. This cruel, unforgiveable insult connected me to that particular olive tree, so special as if it were the only one, as if it were the last, during the award dinner for a literary prize; and I hardly heard the speakers, the poets, who had followed one another to the podium.
I have many defects, but in general I’m not a capricious person. That day I was implacable. After coffee, I sought support, allies; I spoke to some people, then with others, and in the end, I walked out of the restaurant with what was now my olive tree in my arms. I had already decided its destiny — a long, hard road, which would still require some time before it could be embarked upon.
I placed it on the windowsill of my house in Madrid and for a week I did nothing except water it, look at it. Then, I confronted the first major moment in our lives together. I bought a common flowerpot, small and round, whose capacity still doubled that of the container in which it had arrived at my house, and I transplanted it. I was scared to death, but immediately wonderful things began to happen.
As soon as the bonsai came in contact with soil, it decided to stop being a bonsai and to become a tree. It sprouted two tender vertical branches, green and resplendent, while the tiny leaves of the miniature, which it would never be again, dried up at full speed. One week later, it was a strange plant, dead in the lower part, alive and vigorous in those two branches, which were growing upward at a vertiginous velocity. So I took it to the beach, to this corner of the Bay of Cadiz where everything grows, where it never gets very cold, and I waited for it to get acclimatized. A few days later, I transplanted it once more. I put it in a larger, medium sized flowerpot, began to put fertilizer on it, and its growth soared. Every day I went up to the roof to look at it, every day it greeted me with new leaves; but this wasn’t the best. The oldest leaves began to give off silver reflections, to truly be leaves of an olive tree.
Before returning to Madrid, I transplanted it for a third time, into an enormous container, and I left it in the house of some friends after speaking to their gardener and asking him to water the tree with a lot of care because it was very important to me.
My olive tree spent a year in that container and last year it produced three olives, three small, beautiful, green spheres that justified the trip I made every afternoon just to see them.
The summer passed and I had to return to Madrid, leaving the tree alone in Cadiz for a second time; but it continued growing, got through autumn, survived the winter, and this year, in the spring, I made a trip to Rota1 just to transfer it from the house of my friends to my house, where my gardener planted it in a place I had designated for it more than a year and a half before, in that moment when we met at the center of a table. And amazing things continued to happen.
As I write this story, I am looking at it. Now it is measures 1.2 meters and is, undisputedly, a tree. It’s main branch, which in time will be the only branch, has a solid, course trunk, which distinguishes it from the others that it will shed when it grows a bit more. And on all the branches it has olives, some larger, some smaller; some in bunches, some alone. This year, during winter, I will come down to pick them. I estimate that with luck they will weigh about 350 grams altogether, maybe 400 grams. I’ll wash them, marinate them in brine, and season them. And I’ll eat them.
This will be the definitive end of the story of my olive tree.
1 Spanish city bordering the Bay of Cadiz in Andalusia— southern Spain.
(Translated by Louis Bedrock)
SOLAR AT A CROSSROADS: NET METERING UNDER ATTACK
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
It's been a busy summer at Mendocino Solar Service. Every week we have the pleasure of hearing from local homeowners interested in going solar.
Understandably, we get many good questions about the How, What and When of solar energy. How do I switch my home to solar energy? What does it cost? What are the tax incentives available? Do I have enough sun? Do I need a new roof? What is a ground mounted solar system? When could my new system be installed?
While these are all important questions, solar conversations these days primarily center around net metering, because net metering is what makes on-grid solar energy cost effective for most consumers. Wrap your head around net-metering and you'll get a good handle on why solar energy is getting so much good attention these days.
But, unfortunately, not all the attention net metering is getting is good attention. As solar supporters will tell you: net metering is under attack, and if this attack is successful, solar energy could quickly lose its promising role as a means of green energy production to help fight climate change.
With net metering under attack in multiple states, solar energy is at a crossroads.
Thus, with this month's issue of "News from the Solar System," we're focusing on net metering: what it is and why we all should care. As always, we've included a plethora of helpful links: just click on any text in green for a quick link to more information.
Thank you for your support for clean, green solar energy.
Bruce Erickson & Maggie Watson, Co-Owners, Mendocino Solar Service
P.S. We encourage net metering supporters to call the CPUC and let them know your views. The CPUC toll-free phone number is 800-848-5580
Why Protecting Net Metering Matters to Us All
Net metering is under attack in California and elsewhere around the country. In California, critical regulatory decisions will be made soon that will determine whether solar energy will continue to be a financially viable alternative for homeowners. We encourage consumers to voice support for solar at this critical moment.
Encouraging Californians to go solar matters to the health of our environment. Solar energy is clean, green energy, without the high environmental price of burning fossil fuels, extracting natural gas through 'fracking,' or mucking around in the mess of nuclear energy production and long-term storage of nuclear waste. Solar energy is a huge water saver as well. And, the solar industry provides living-wage green jobs.
Realizing all of these much-needed environmental and economic benefits of solar requires consumers to voluntarily make the choice to go solar. Net metering is what makes solar a financially viable choice for many consumers. Thus, net metering matters to us all.
In a nutshell, net metering allows solar energy customers to feed their excess solar production back in to the grid, selling this power to utility companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). On sunny days, especially in the summer months, solar energy customers can often watch their energy meters run backwards.
Selling this excess energy to PG&E helps owners of net metered homes make up for the cost of energy they purchase from PG&E to power their homes at night, and at times when there is less solar energy produced, such as during the winter months.
In recent years, the interests of net metering customers in California have been well protected. Net metering fared well because of its public popularity, solar industry support, and its effectiveness in encouraging Californians to go solar.
California's Governor Jerry Brown has been a vocal supporter of net metering, along with consumer and pro-solar organizations, including the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA), of which Mendocino Solar Service is a member.
How effective net metering can be in encouraging consumers to go solar has everything to do with the rules. For example, does a utility 'have to' allow consumers to use net metering. And, how much is a utility required to compensate homeowners for energy they sell back?
In California, the rules on how net metering works are set by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC). The CPUC traces its origin back to the late 1800's, when public concern over the unchecked power of railroad interests led to the establishment of the regulatory Railroad Commission. Today, the CPUC is charged with regulating California's investor-owned utility companies.
PG&E is one of the utility companies that the CPUC regulates. Unfortunately, PG&E, along with other utility companies, is fighting to reverse current protections on net-metering. They want solar powered customers to pay for using the power grid. They also want to find ways to limit the amount of reimbursement they are required to give to net metered customers who sell excess energy to PG&E.
In the words of Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of California Solar Energy Industries Association, California's solar supporters are engaged in "an historic fight to save net metering and California's rooftop solar market."
Similar anti-net metering attacks are happening in other states, such as Arizona and Ohio.
A recent article by Joby Warrick for the Washington Post states:"the [utility] industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies."
Warrick goes on to explain that: "The campaign’s first phase—an industry push for state laws raising prices for solar customers—failed spectacularly in legislatures around the country, due in part to surprisingly strong support for solar energy from conservatives and evangelicals in traditionally “red states.” But more recently, the battle has shifted to public utility commissions, where industry backers have mounted a more successful push for fee hikes that could put solar panels out of reach for many potential customers."
It's important to note that any future rule changes with how net metering works will probably not immediately impact those who are currently using net metering, as they are expected be 'grand-fathered' in under current provisions for 20 years. However, all consumers are encouraged to vocalize their support for net metering.
We encourage net metering supporters to call the CPUC and let them know your views. The CPUC toll-free phone number is 800-848-5580.
— Mendocino Solar Service, Little River
ENVIRONMENTAL/ETHICAL/SPIRITUAL COSTS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S WINE INDUSTRY
by Shepherd Bliss
I have been contemplating why the growing struggle by rural residents against the expanding, industrial wine industry in Sonoma and Napa counties, Northern California, has touched my heart and soul so deeply.
An email from Sister Julie DeRossi of the Starcross Monastic Community to the Board of Supervisors, which follows at the end of this article, provided insight. It stimulated a consideration of the environmental, ethical, spiritual, and agricultural costs of the invasive wine industry that consumes and spoils our diverse rural land at an increasingly rapid rate.
Nuns, monks, and other religious people have pursued farming as spiritual practice for centuries. Israel’s communal farms, called kibbutzes, could be considered another example of such farming.
Good farming involves direct, meditative, mindful contact with the Earth and creation. It provides solitude and interaction with animals, plants, and the elements, which is important in most religious traditions. It offers insight into the other-than-human world.
Ordained a United Methodist minister, I served various congregations. For most of the last 35 years, I have worked mainly as a part-time college teacher, and as a berry farmer for the last two-dozen years. I have taught ethics and other subjects at the historically Catholic Dominican University for the last four years. I consider teaching, farming, and writing to be forms of secular ministry.
What the destructive wine industry has been doing in Northern California seems unethical to me. It is inconsistent with the principles of what ecologist Aldo Leopold describes as "land ethics.” Leopold writes, “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”
Sister Julie writes below about "spiritual health." I was drawn to semi-rural Sonoma County in the early l990’s because it nourished my soul. I felt part of a connected whole, what some describe as a “community of faith,” rather than merely an isolated individual.
After a couple of years here, I bought rural land in 1992 and transformed it into a working berry farm. I named it after the wounded healer Kokopelli of the indigenous Pueblo people.
“Kneel And Kiss The Ground”
As I pick berries at Kokopelli Farm, prayerfully bowing down to the ground, I recall words from the Sufi poet Rumi, ”There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Some farmers do kiss and even taste the soil, from which we emerged.
Berry-picking is a form of yoga, which in the spiritual tradition means “union,” including with the Divine. My belief system has evolved to include elements of various spiritual traditions.
I encourage berry pickers to “think like a berry.” This borrows from ecologist Leopold’s essay “Thinking Like a Mountain.” As a young man, he hunted wolves. One day he looked into the eyes of a dying wolf that he had killed. He later looked at a ravaged mountain, lacking that important predator. Leopold had a metanoia—a spiritual transformation. So he advocated that we “think like a mountain.”
Leopold stopped hunting and became a forest ranger committed to protecting forests, which the invasive wine industry clear-cuts to replace with industrial vineyards. Perhaps more grape-growers, wine-makers, and vintners will have spiritual awakenings and work to regenerate the land, rather than damage it.
Sonoma County has over 60,000 acres planted to wine grapes, which continues to expand, whereas only around 12,000 are planted with food crops, a number which is shrinking. One can “eat” only so much wine. A conventional vineyard destroys the land’s diversity, making it desert-like and inhospitable to most life forms, other than grapes.
Mono-crops threaten nature’s balance and tend to have boom-and-bust cycles. Wineries have real estate departments. Once their mono-crop busts, and it will, they are prepared to sell to people who would build McMansions.
Wine grapes do not need bees for pollination, as many food crops do. Most grape-growers use pesticides, which can spread for miles, killing millions of bees, as well as other beneficial life forms. Bee colony collapse is a major food crisis, which the growing wine industry worsens.
“Vineyards are green deserts for bees,” writes my bee-keeping neighbor Ellen Sherron. “They used to be able to forage on apples, pears, prunes and berries. These reliable food sources in early spring have been replaced with huge swaths of wind-pollinated plants that provide nothing for bees. Grapes require lots of fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides, which kill countless bees.”
“I consider how I interact with my garden to be a spiritual act,” Sherron added. “I have serious spiritual revelations by going into the yard.”
Gratitude is an essential element of spirituality, which can help create contentment. What unites Big Wine is the pursuit of financial wealth, even at the expense of one’s neighbors, the land, and the environment. Such rampant materialism aligns Big Wine with Big Oil, Big Tobacco, and Big Coal, for the damage that they all do to the Earth and its human and non-human inhabitants.
My soul aches as I witness the multiple abuses of the wine industry to the land, water, air, soil, and its animal and human neighbors. As the Wine Empire further colonizes our counties, I have felt a spiritual sickness. I no longer feel that "place of serenity,” which Sister Julie describes below, as much as I used to.
Farming With Or Against Nature
Farming can either emulate natural processes or go against them. The list of wine industry abuses is long and dangerous. Many of its common practices are contrary to nature’s design, including the following: bulldozing hilltops; clear-cutting redwood forests, eliminating oak woodlands, and destroying apple orchards; abusing the soil; fencing out wildlife; using poisonous pesticides, including in school zones; congesting narrow, rural roads with tipsy wine tasters and noisy, industrial equipment; making loud noises all night that keep neighbors up; and much more.
Even in a time of drought, the wine industry hoards rather than shares limited water, which all creatures need to survive.
Such practices are not sustainable, contrary to the wine industry’s false claims, nor environmental, ethical, or spiritual. They are not consistent with genuine sustainable agriculture. The substantial profits go primarily to the corporate alcohol companies that own most of the wine production. The money goes to Wall Street and foreign investors, many of whom never come here. The booklet “The Myth of the Family Winery: Global Corporations Behind California Wine,” by the Marin Institute proves this.
Such practices do not make vineyards and wineries good neighbors. Property values tend to go down and wells sometimes dry up when vineyards and wineries move in next door.
“Most winemakers/vineyard managers label themselves as ‘stewards of the land’ — a crown they conveniently wear to sell wine,” a grape-grower friend wrote. “In reality, they have a disregard for how their farming techniques affect us all.”
Wine And Water Watch
For the last six months I have been working with a four-county community organizing group that meets monthly — Wine and Water Watch (WWW). Through the work of WWW and other groups — such as Preserve Rural Sonoma County and NapaVision 2050 — we can engage in political efforts to restore the spiritual strength inherent in this beautiful land that we share with so many Divine creatures.
“I, too, feel a profound spiritual sickness so deep that I don’t know how to go on living here. When I drive to places I have to avert my eyes from the landscape,” writes my WWW colleague Pamela Singer. She is featured in her garden at the San Francisco CBS-TV news clip at the link below. Other friends have already left Sonoma County in search of more serene, less industrial places to dwell. I miss them.
The rapidly growing industrial wine industry has thrust Sonoma County into a spiritual crisis — as well as political, environmental, ethical, agricultural, and cultural crises. Dealing with it requires more than mere political action. Immediate and direct action is needed to retain what is being lost. Fortunately, more people are raising voices against the wine industry’s over-growth, indicating the emergence of a mass movement.
“We need a new kind of land reform, with a new consensual ethic that rewards regeneration of diversity, soil fertility, carbon sequestration, food production, beauty, and spiritual sustenance,” writes the Zen Buddhist priest and food farmer Barton Stone.
Too many people bow down to the false wine god Bacchus, rather than to the full fertility of the Earth itself.
Grace & peace,
Shepherd Bliss, 3sb@comcast, www.WineWaterWatch.com (in development)
More information: http://youtu.be/4VJrJUS-IKg
* * *
Dear Members of the Board of Supervisors,
As you consider amending the Coastal Ag element of the General Plan please pause to reflect on what is happening to our beautiful county as industrial wine takes over. We are in danger of losing something which makes this area unique — the important natural quiet zones of forest and coast that contribute to the physical, emotional and spiritual health of all people whether residents or visitors.
You know the reality of water scarcity and other environmental impacts. May I offer an additional perspective and quote Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter addressed “To the whole human family” Laudato si: On Care for Our Common Home. “If we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs...turning reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.”
When I first moved to Annapolis as a member of Starcross Monastic Community in 1976 we were seeking a place of serenity. It was a place we vowed to protect and preserve for ourselves, our children and urban friends in need of a place of quiet. Now looking out from our chapel we see hillsides covered with vineyards, almost all of which are owned by large corporations.
As the poet Wendell Berry has said, “What we need is here.” It is here. Now. I hope that in the interest of promoting commercial ventures, what we and our children truly need will not be sacrificed. The power is in your hands.
Sister Julie DeRossi, Starcross Monastic Community, Annapolis, Sonoma County
SAY GOODBYE TO NORMAL
by James Kunstler
The tremors rattling markets are not exactly what they seem to be. A meme prevails that these movements represent a kind of financial peristalsis — regular wavelike workings of eternal progress toward an epic more of everything, especially profits! You can forget the supposedly “normal” cycles of the techno-industrial arrangement, which means, in particular, the business cycle of the standard economics textbooks. Those cycle are dying.
They’re dying because there really are Limits to Growth and we are now solidly in grips of those limits. Only we can’t recognize the way it is expressing itself, especially in political terms. What’s afoot is a not “recession” but a permanent contraction of what has been normal for a little over two hundred years. There is not going to be more of everything, especially profits, and the stock buyback orgy that has animated the corporate executive suites will be recognized shortly for what it is: an assest-stripping operation.
What’s happening now is a permanent contraction. Well, of course, nothing lasts forever, and the contraction is one phase of a greater transition. The cornucopians and techno-narcissists would like to think that we are transitioning into an even more lavish era of techno-wonderama — life in a padded recliner tapping on a tablet for everything! I don’t think so. Rather, we’re going medieval, and we’re doing it the hard way because there’s just not enough to go around and the swollen populations of the world are going to be fighting over what’s left.
Actually, we’ll be lucky if we can go medieval, because there’s no guarantee that the contraction has to stop there, especially if we behave really badly about it — and based on the way we’re acting now, it’s hard to be optimistic about our behavior improving. Going medieval would imply living within the solar energy income of the planet, and by that I don’t mean photo-voltaic panels, but rather what the planet might provide in the way of plant and animal “income” for a substantially smaller population of humans. That plus a long-term resource salvage operation.
All the grand movements of stock indexes and central banks are just a diverting sort of stagecraft within the larger pageant of this contraction. The governors of the Federal Reserve play the role of viziers in this comic melodrama. That is, they are exalted figures robed in magical Brooks Brothers summer poplin pretending to have supernatural power to control events. You can tell from their recent assembly out west — “A-holes at the J-hole” — that they are very much in doubt that their “powers” will continue to be taken seriously. This endless hand-wringing over a measily quarter-point interest rate hike is like some quarrel among alchemists as to whether a quarter-degree rise in temperature might render a lump of clay into a gold nugget.
What they do doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that a great deal of the notional “wealth” they conjured up over the past decade or so is about to vanish — poof! Perhaps that will look like a black magic act. That wealth seemed so real! The bulging portfolios with their exquisite allocations! The clever options! The cunning shorts. Especially the canny bets in dark derivative pools! All up in a vapor. The sad truth being it was never there in the first place. It was just an hallucination induced by the manipulation of markets and the criminal misrepresentation of statistics, especially the employment numbers.
There are rumors that the Grand Vizeress of all, Ms. Yellen, is flirting with possible indictment over the “leakage” of valuable information out of her inner circle to potential profiteers. Whoops. It may lead nowhere but to me it is an index of her more general loss of credibility. All year she has spouted supernaturally fallacious nonsense about how “the data” guides Fed decision-making. Only her data is contrary to what is actually happening in the pathetic Rube Goldberg contraption that the so-called US economy has become (Walmart + entitlements). Her “guidance” amounts to a lot of futile drum-beating on a turret of the Fed castle, hoping to make it rain prosperity. Her enigmatic utterances have kept financial markets in a narrow sideways channel most of the year until recently.
I’d say she’d lost her mojo, and the lesser viziers on the Fed board are looking more and more like the larval, sunken-chested dweebs that they really are. So where is the nation to turn? Why, to the great blustering Trump, with his “can-do” bombast about “making America great again.” What does he mean, exactly? Like, making America the way it was in 1958?” Behold: the return of the great steel rolling mills along the banks of the Monongahela (and so on)! Fuggeddabowdit. Ain’t gonna happen.
I have to say it again: prepare to get smaller and more local. Things on the grand level are not going to work out. Get your shit together locally, and do it in place that has some prospect for keeping on: a small town somewhere food can be grown and especially places near the inland waterways where some kind of commercial exchange might continue in the absence of the trucking industry. Sound outlandish? Okay then. Keep buying Tesla stock and party on, dudes. Hail the viziers in their star-and-planet bedizened Brooks Brother raiment. Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.
The third World Made By Hand novel !! Is available !!
(The Fourth and final is finished and on the way — June 2016. “Kunstler skewers everything from kitsch to greed, prejudice, bloodshed, and brainwashing in this wily, funny, rip-roaring, and profoundly provocative page- turner, leaving no doubt that the prescriptive yet devilishly satiric A World Made by Hand series will continue.” — Booklist)